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Separation Process Engineering: Includes Mass Transfer Analysis, Third Edition by Phillip C. Wankat

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1.2 Concept of Equilibrium

The separation processes we are studying in Chapters 1 to 14 are based on the equilibrium stage concept, which states that streams leaving a stage are in equilibrium. What do we mean by equilibrium?

Consider a vapor and a liquid that are in contact with each other as shown in Figure 1-2. Liquid molecules are continually vaporizing, while vapor molecules are continually condensing. If two chemical species are present, they will, in general, condense and vaporize at different rates. When not at equilibrium, the liquid and the vapor can be at different pressures and temperatures and be present in different mole fractions. At equilibrium the temperatures, pressures, and fractions of the two phases cease to change. Although ...

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